City, mayor look into solutions to ease traffic troubles



 Seattle ranks as the fourth-most-congested city in the country, and Mayor Mike McGinn wants that to change.


The city of Seattle and McGinn think they have solutions to improving traffic flow and ease congestion.


KIRO 7 Eyewitness News reporter James Schugel spoke with driver who doesn’t think the traffic troubles have eased.


“I think of the Mercer mess, which I do drive through on occasion, and I don’t see the pain has eased up at all,” said driver Patrick Robles.


One solution is variable message boards strategically positioned in well-traveled areas. The boards are already up along Aurora and Interstate 5, and they list alternate routes and travel times into downtown Seattle on each one.


“I think when people have better information, they can make better choices on where to go but they also do not needlessly clog up the streets,” said Peter Hahn of the Seattle Department of Transportation.


The city is also looking into adaptive traffic signals for key corridors such as Mercer and downtown. The signals change for the actual traffic demand, and lights turn green based on the amount of traffic instead of a preset, timed cycle.


“We do need better funding sources,” said McGinn.


McGinn made it clear that there’s a cost to upgrading traffic-control systems. He was one of nearly 50 Washington mayors who expressed an urgent and unmet need for transportation funding in a letter to the governor. Some of the ideas included increasing the gas tax to 8 cents a gallon and expanding the vehicle license fee from $20 to $40.


Traffic experts will begin studying Seattle's new traffic-control ideas, and the best locations to put them to use.


Drivers can start to see some of the changes in this year, but the Mercer Corridor Project won’t be done for another two years.